For another round of National Matters with GM Mike Rizzo, Nats beat writer Ben Goessling talked with the general manager about the view on the trade horizon and the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.
Find out what Rizzo thinks of possible top pick Bryce Harper and what, if anything, compares to the excitement of draft day.
BG: Is there - and maybe this is kind of a fluid thing - but is there a point, going into the trade season where you decide if you’re going to be a buyer or a seller?
Mike Rizzo: I don’t think there’s a definitive date you decide it. I’m in trade mode every day of the season. Anytime I can make a trade that positively impacts our organization, not only for ‘10, but in the future, we’ll make a trade at any time. I’m in constant contact with GMs about trades of all sorts. The trade deadline is just that - it’s a deadline. It’s a deadline to make a trade without a guy going through waivers. But beyond that date, we’re working on stuff. We’ve made inquiries, and had inquiries made on us through the early part of the season already.
BG: This is “Year Two” in a different function for you with the draft. How much scouting are you able to do these days?
Mike Rizzo: Very limited this year. I have great trust in Roy Clark, his track record, and his background, and Kris Kline. I’ve known these guys for a long time. Kris has been with me for 25 years. They know the type of guys that I want to draft, and Roy Clark’s track record speaks for itself.
BG: How many trips have you made? I know about the one to see (Bryce) Harper, but how many others?
MR: A few. Several, we’ll call it.
BG: With Harper, was it just the one weekend you were able to see him?
Mike Rizzo: Yes.
BG: Was he about what you expected on the field?
Mike Rizzo: Yeah. You scout tools and skills, and he’s definitely got tools and skills. I got to talk to the player, so I got a feel for his character and his makeup. I got to speak to his parents - they were both at the game - for an extended period of time, so I got a good feel for them. It was a great trip, and I got a good feel for what the player can do physically and what he’s all about mentally and emotionally.
BG: There’s been a lot made about his makeup and everything. How did you feel about that coming away from it?
Mike Rizzo: I have no issue, whatsoever, about the player’s makeup.
BG: There’s going to be a lot of attention on you guys in the draft again. Is that - it’s not fun, I guess, because it means you’re picking No. 1 - but is that part of the job that you relish?
Mike Rizzo: I love the draft. When I was heavily involved in the draft, it is the best time. Those guys that are coming in next week for the draft - the cross-checkers and the scouting directors - it is their ultimate day. It’s their Super Bowl. They prepare 11 months for these three days. I compare it to high school football, the way you felt on the day of a game. You’re fired up. Your adrenaline is pumping. You’re well-prepared, and the room is a well-oiled machine. And it’s fun. That’s why guys are in that side of the business for years. Kris Kline, for example, could’ve been a special assistant to the general manager and doing all sorts of things. He wants to be in that amateur draft. That’s his baby. That’s what gives him the most happiness, and the most adrenaline out of anything he could do in scouting.
BG: Other than maybe winning a World Series, is that the biggest rush you get in your job?
Mike Rizzo: I harken back to the days I ran the draft room, and it really is an adrenaline rush. I’ve won a World Series, and it’s not quite there, but it’s second only to that, probably.